THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY
|THE GERMANS AT SCHOOL|
By Professor HUGO MÜNSTERBERG
AT the time of their political weakness the Germans were derisively called the thinkers and dreamers. When the other great nations divided the world of reality among themselves, the Germans took refuge in the realm of fancy. The stronger peoples considered them as the members of a rich household look on the poor schoolmaster at their table. That time has passed away. The politics and commerce and industry of Germany have secured its powerful position in the world, and no one doubts the strength of the Germans in the field of the real facts. But there was mingled with the derisive mood of previous times a silent respect for that German idealism. The name of thinkers and dreamers appeared to some, and not to the worst, a title of honor. The world acknowledged that in scholarship and research and education the Germans were able to teach mankind. Their schools were models and their methods superior, and in the days of war the world accepted the saying that the German schoolmaster had won the battles. How much of this honor and glory has been left in these days of German commercial, industrial and political advance? Has the forward striving in the realm of might and power meant loss of prestige, and, what is more important, loss of true achievement in the field of thought and education, or did the progress of modern Germany involve as much intellectual gain as practical profit? The Germans at work easily win the admiration of every visitor who goes to their centers of industry. Are the Germans at school equally deserving of honorable praise, or are they simply resting on their laurels?
The educational life of a country is always a great organism in which all parts are interdependent. There can not be good schools without good universities, nor good universities without good schools. The quality of the teachers and the quality of the pupils, the general education and the special instruction are all intimately related to one another. We must look into this organic system if we want to ascertain its strength and endurance. A few educational show pieces are not enough. Is there progress and growth in all the essential parts. We may begin with the German university, which is, after all, the real heart of the whole Organism and which had more direct influence on American educational life than any other part of the German educational system. Those who built up the great American institutions in the last generation from mere colleges into true universities had received the decisive impulses in German academic halls. To be sure in recent years a kind